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Baroness Sharp of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The UK Government intend that there will be strong technical co-operation between the UK Synchrotron project, DIAMOND, and French SOLEIL project planned for Saclay over the next period while both machines are in development. Any UK involvement in SOLEIL beyond this phase will depend on the future needs of the UK scientific community. This will require thorough assessment before any financial commitment is made.

Universal Banking Services

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Agreement in principle was reached on 20 December 2000 with the following six banks, Barclays, Lloyds TSB Ltd, RBS/Nat West, HSBC, Abbey National and the Halifax, to contribute towards universal banking services at the Post Office. Discussions continue with other banks and building societies to examine what contributions they can make.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: To date, six banks have agreed in principle to fund universal banking services at the Post Office. They are Barclays, Lloyds TSB, RBS/Nat West, HSBC, Abbey National and the Halifax.

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Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money they have agreed to contribute to the universal bank; on what terms; and for how long. [HL288]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Until the full details of universal banking services have been settled, it is too early to say what government support may be required.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the funding of the universal bank provided by the high street banks is a once and for all payment or whether it is unlimited. [HL289]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: To date six high street banks have agreed in principle to contribute to universal banking services for a time period of five years.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the terms of the funding of the universal bank by the high street banks will be published. [HL290]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The terms of funding universal banking services are commercially confidential to the Post Office and to those high street banks which agree to contribute.

Terrorism Act: Functions of Examining and Authorised Officers

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will lay before Parliament the draft UK-wide codes in connection with the functions of examining officers and authorised officers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the order under paragraph 19 of Schedule 8 to the Act in connection with a solicitor's presence at interviews in Scotland.[HL308]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): We have today laid before Parliament draft codes of practice in connection with the functions of examining officers and authorised officers under the Terrorism Act 2000. We have also today laid before Parliament an order under paragraph 19 of Schedule 8 to the Act in respect of a solicitor's presence at any interview in Scotland carried out in connection with a terrorist investigation or for the purposes of Schedule 7 to the Act relating to port and border controls.

Operation Trident

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 28 illegal firearms seized by the Metropolitan Police during Operation Trident were capable of lethal discharge at the time they were taken; and[HL209]

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    What was the calibre, class or type, maker and model of the 28 illegal firearms seized by the Metropolitan Police during Operation Trident; and[HL210]

    How many of the 28 illegal firearms seized by the Metropolitan Police during Operation Trident were: an


    (a) imitation or replica firearms capable of discharging blank ammunition;


    (b) imitation or replica firearms not capable of discharging blank ammunition;


    (c) air weapons not subject to certificate control;


    (d) non-functional de-activated firearms;


    (e) deactivated firearms which have been re-activated;


    (f) home made firearms;


    (g) imitation or replica firearms converted to discharge live ammunition; or


    (h) antique firearms.[HL211]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Operation Trident is still in progress, and we understand that some 44 firearms have been seized so far by the Metropolitan Police in connection with this operation. Details of these are not immediately available in the form requested, and I will write to the noble Earl when this information has been assembled. A copy of the letter will be deposited in the Library.

Women Offenders: Home Office Report

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why no date of publication is shown on the recent Home Office report titled The Government's strategy for women offenders.[HL220]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A publication date was omitted from the document, Protecting the public and preventing re-offending, The Government's strategy for women offenders, owing to an administrative oversight. The document was published on 12 October, with a full press release. Linda Jones, Assistant Director and Head of Women's Policy Group, undertook a number of media interviews on the days immediately following publication.

Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987: Charges

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 18 October (WA 91) on the Immigration (Carriers Liability) Act 1987, what were the total charges incurred and owed for each of the last five years by carriers registered in:


    (a) the United Kingdom;


    (b) each other European Union member state; and


    (c) other countries.[HL89]

15 Jan 2001 : Column WA98

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord recently asked an almost identical question. A Written Answer was given on 9 November 2000 (WA 174). It remains the case that the information requested is currently unavailable and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Child Abuse

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out, for each of the last 10 years for which figures are available, the numbers of incidents of child abuse where the parents involved were married; and[HL234]

    Whether they will set out, for each of the last 10 years for which figures are available, the numbers of incidents of child abuse where the adults involved were not married, one being a parent.[HL235]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This information is not collected centrally.

Freedom of Information Act: Commencement

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to bring the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 into force.[HL242]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Section 87 of the Act sets out the commencement provisions. Some provisions came into force on Royal Assent, some will come into effect two months after Royal Assent and all of the remaining provisions will come into effect five years after Royal Assent or earlier as determined by the Secretary of State. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has begun discussions with the Information Commissioner designate about implementation of these provisions and he hopes to publish an implementation plan in March.

National Asylum Support Service Scheme

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of the National Asylum Support Service scheme for accommodating asylum seekers--


    (a) what has been the average occupancy of accommodation paid for under the scheme;


    (b) how much accommodation was pre-booked by the scheme, and what is its percentage occupancy;


    (c) how many accommodation units are currently allocated to individuals but are not in fact occupied, and what is the cost of such accommodation in total; and

15 Jan 2001 : Column WA99


    (d) what proportion of short-term holding accommodation has been occupied by the same individuals for more than (i) three months and (ii) six months.[HL133]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As of 20 December 2000, 79 per cent of property under contract to the National Asylum Support Service was occupied.

All accommodation used by the National Asylum Support Service is pre-booked. This is a necessary operational requirement to ensure that sufficient accommodation units are available to meet demand.

At the end of November 2000, 15,200 asylum seekers were allocated to accommodation by the National Asylum Support Service. Accommodation providers are obliged through their contract to advise the National Asylum Support Service of all instances of asylum seekers being absent from allocated accommodation for more than seven days. All reported instances are investigated by the National Asylum Support Service and appropriate action taken. This information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The proportion of short-term holding accommodation held by individuals for more than three months and six months is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


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